Creating a total customer experience (TCE) that delivers delight at every touchpoint can differentiate your business from the rest of your competitors. Why? Imagine buying a sandwich from a local café that, though delicious, is delivered in a container that falls apart before you get it back to your office. Or the service people are short with you and get your order all wrong. Or you are charged $10 for a sandwich that is listed on the menu for $5 because of “extras.” Or you read that they are underpaying their staff or buying cheap, poor quality ingredients.
Any of these could turn what was a great experience – a delicious lunch – into something you never want to endure again. So you take your business elsewhere, and take your friends with you. Although business leaders understand this conceptually, it can be harder to apply to your business, understanding all the ways the customer touches your business and the ways you do or do not deliver an experience.
The confusion often lies with the definition of customer experience. Many businesses expect their customer experience to be constrained to one or two of the following areas:
- User Experience (UX) – defined as the “ergonomics of human system interaction”, UX is often focused on your customer’s digital experience with your business.
- Customer Service – focused on help desk or call center services
- Billing or Accounts Receivable – focused on managing transactions rather than customer engagements
- User Interface (UI) – product interface, both digital and physical, often focused on usability
- Branding and Marketing – focused on product positioning and messaging
- Initial setup, installation and maintenance
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In order to leave a positive and memorable impression in your customer’s minds and deliver a total customer experience, your business will need to deliver the same, consistent “feeling” at all these touchpoints, plus a few more:
- Sales – your frontline service people’s customer interactions
- Business model – what and how you charge customers, and the ways they can pay you
- Service level and guarantees – how you ensure your products meets customers’ needs after they buy
- Store – physical or digital presentation of your product
- Supplies – additional items customers can purchase as they are using your product
- Repurchase – word-of-mouth recommendations
The good news is that once a strong emotional connection and experience is defined, it will serve as a guidepost for all of your operational decisions. This experience guidepost empowers your employees to bring new ideas on how to delight to customers, increasing their engagement and fulfillment in the process.
Businesses who don’t focus on an experience (your competitors?) deliver such a mixed bag of engagements and transactions that it is hard for their customers to figure out exactly what value they are receiving for their money. For example, I recently worked with an organization that wanted to create an elaborate “back to top” button on their mobile website. The team did a really good job designing the UI but they had no metric to use that would help them prioritize the new feature over the others in the backlog. If it was implemented, other things would have to wait; if it wasn’t implemented, the team was discouraged that all their hard work went to waste. And it was a crap shoot as to whether it actually added to the experience delivered to the customer.
So how do you move ahead of your competitors and consistently deliver delight to your customers? Talk to them, find the need that you are uniquely qualified to meet, and articulate the emotion this will evoke. Then nail it by making sure each and every one of your employees knows their role in providing that experience.
For more on TCE and how to create the TCE wheel for your business, see What is Total Customer Experience (TCE)?